Smiley: Death of “salesman”

Tommy Watts notices that job titles have been changing over the years and that “some of these changes seem to be for the purpose of making us feel better about ourselves.

“We used to have salesmen — people who sold just about anything to other people.

“Those who sold stuff in stores, like clothes, were generally called sales clerks.

“Now it seems they are called ‘sales associates’ or ‘retail sales consultants.’

“Such name changes aren’t limited to salesmen. Recently, I was searching the blue pages of my telephone book when I noticed that a certain judicial office downtown had an employee called a ‘senior legal specialist.’

“Overwhelmed by curiosity, I dialed the office and asked who a senior legal specialist might be. The lady who answered said, ‘Oh, that’s the secretary.’ ”

You’re right, Tommy, this is indeed a trend. Which is why I refer to myself not as a mere columnist but a “highly trained professional journalist.”

Does wonders for the ego.

The story man

I was saddened to learn of the death of Dale Boyett, a valued contributor for many years.

Dale was a great storyteller, and I especially remember two of his tales.

One was about getting a speeding ticket in rural Mississippi and being directed to the home of the judge to pay the fine. He found himself in an isolated house that looked as if it had been lifted from a Stephen King novel.

The near-sighted old judge had him fill out the forms himself, then charged him $12. Dale figured it was $12 worth of entertainment.

He also told of being a young soldier and driving through Kentucky one cold evening. Needing a warm place to spend the night, he came upon Fort Knox and entered the military base.

He saw no guard at the entrance, so he went in, found an empty barracks, and settled in. Leaving the next morning, he still didn’t see a guard.

Here’s his last item, sent to me in March, when he was visiting doctors and hospitals regularly — a fact that didn’t affect his sense of humor:

“I recently had a doctor’s appointment and was being weighed by the nurse.

“I commented that I had lost 15 pounds, and from down the hall came this response by a woman: ‘I found it!’ ”

Rhythm of the rails

Gene Duke adds this recollection to our train song collection: “Through the open windows in the Kansas City Southern railroad yard house, we could hear the track-laying crew singing as they worked.

“The music was similar to the soundtrack in the movie ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’

“As they drove rail spikes, coordinated with the rhythm of the pounding, they would sing, ‘Everyone is working but the lazy man, he hurt his hand.’

“The ‘lazy man’ would be standing to the side enjoying the song.”

The Ogden story

Bob Gossard says residents of Ogden Park are restoring their subdivision signs and want to add the founding date:

“But we can’t find a date anywhere. The city Permit Department says they only have records going back to 1955.”

Bob says Baton Rouge High was built in 1927 and figures homes grew up around it — his was built in 1932. If you can help him, call (225) 383-2468.

Naming rights

T. Med Hogg says the success of the Vanderbilt baseball team reminds him of how the university’s sports teams got the name “Commodores”:

“The university was endowed by Cornelius Vanderbilt, a wealthy owner of railroad lines and steamships.

“One his first enterprises was a makeshift ferry using an old barge. He later owned the Staten Island Ferry, from which he got the unofficial name of ‘Commodore.’ ”

Seniors beware

Velta Cross, of Baker, tells of receiving a call one morning from someone claiming that Medicare was mailing out new cards to all members and asking her to verify her name, address and phone number:

“The kicker was that he wanted my bank name so as to verify that I am the senior citizen who is going to receive the card.

“After trying to convince the caller of how stupid his reasoning was, I hung up.

“I think seniors are in for another scam. Please warn them.”

Special People Dept.

Bob and Betty Roland celebrated 65 years of marriage Saturday.

Words of wisdom

Glen Falgoux, of St. Amant, says, “Following up on your readers’ revelations that chocolate, coffee, brewski and oak-aged hootch are vegetables:

“I saw this sign in a old farmers market recently that read: ‘Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.’”

One for Roland

Dan Burkhalter, the Carencro Curmudgeon, sent this one in honor of the late Roland Daigre, who provided us with the world’s worst puns:

“Evidence has been found that William Tell and his family were avid bowlers.

“Unfortunately, all the Swiss League records were destroyed by fire — so we’ll never know for whom the Tells bowled.”

Write Smiley at He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.